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Domestic helper jobs in Canada

Published:Tuesday | May 8, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Deidre S. Powell

Dear Miss Powell, I am a helper in Jamaica and I would like to move to Canada. Can you please tell me how much they pay helpers and how I can apply? Thank you for trying to help us here in Jamaica.

- A.M.

Dear A.M.,

In Canada, helpers are called, 'live-in caregivers' or 'domestic workers'. These persons are employed by individuals or householders to perform services in a private home. Their duties are usually to provide care to the elderly, disabled or young children.

I don't know your qualifications; however, there are several ways that you may qualify to immigrate to Canada. Based on your current occupation, I would recommend one of the following routes:

1. Family sponsorship

2. Work permit

3. Live-in caregiver programme

All three require you to have some connection or to make contact with someone in Canada to assist you with this application. I won't go into details about the first two, as they have been written about in previous articles. Please check past articles online.

Live-in caregiver

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has established the live-in caregiver programme as a means of allowing Canadian residents and citizens, who qualify, to hire caregivers (helpers) from another country. Both the prospective employer and the caregiver must meet certain basic requirements before a live-in caregiver permit is granted.

Some of the requirements for the caregiver are:

1. Successfully completing the equivalent of a Canadian secondary school, this is a minimum of 12 years of full-time education. This means going beyond our usual fifth form or grade 11 in high/ secondary schools. However, this issue can be dealt with by additional studies, training and/ or work experience.

2. Ability to communicate effective in English or French, especially at the interview.

3. Successfully completing medical, criminal and security checks.

The future employer will need to:

1. Do a positive Labour Market Opinion (LMO) - This is an application that is submitted to the Human Resources and Skills Development Service in Canada, which accesses issues such as the need for this job, wages and working conditions.

2. Provide a signed employment contract between the employer and caregiver.

The most important issue for you, A.M., is to make contact with a future employer, gather all your original documents such as passport, birth certificate, diploma, certificates, record of your grades/ transcripts. When your prospective employer receives the LMO and provides you with the contract, then you complete the required forms, pay the fee and submit your application.

If you are successful you will be issued an initial live-in caregiver work permit. Once you are in Canada, hold on to the job as the longer you stay in a job improves your chances of getting permanent residency and getting a new or better job. However, if you have been exposed to abuse or other personal issues arise so that you must quit, contact CIC before doing so, to ensure your rights and interests are protected.

The minimum wage for live-in caregivers in Canada depends on the province and range from a low of C$9.27 to high a of C$11.33 per hour. The rate in Ontario is $10.56 per hour, with a maximum of 48 hours per week.

Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator and notary public who is a member of the Jamaican and Ontario, Canada bars, with main office located in Ottawa, Ontario. Her areas of practice are in immigration, personal injury, family and administration of estates. She is on the roster of mediators for Ottawa, Toronto and the Dispute Resolution Foundation of Jamaica. Email: Subject line: Immigration